How to Capitalize on St. Patrick’s Day When You Don’t Own an Irish Pub

Date: March 15, 2013

3 small business owners share how they entice customers without green beer

More about small animals in small businessesYou don’t have to be an Irish pub to capitalize on St. Patrick’s Day, say the following small business owners—each of whom attract attention during this most Irish of holidays.

Seattle’s Trophy Cupcakes & Party, for instance, added a Green Velvet cupcake to its menu a few years ago, says founder Jennifer Shea. “Our Red Velvet cupcakes are our absolute most popular cupcake and we thought, ‘Why not make it green for St. Patrick’s?’ Green cake wouldn’t be very popular any other time of year, but on St. Paddy’s Day, our customers go crazy for it.”

Trophy began offering customers its other St. Patrick’s Day-inspired flavor, Chocolate Guinness Stout cupcakes topped with Irish Cream frosting, back in 2007, the business’ first year in operation, adds Shea, who admits to being initially surprised by its success. “I didn’t expect St. Paddy’s Day to be particularly busy, since it doesn’t quite seem like a dessert holiday, but we were slammed.”

Time to Make the Doughnuts

Another Seattle-based small business, Mighty-O Donuts, celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a slightly different manner, says General Manager Julie Twiggs.

In the past, for instance, Mighty-O, a maker of certified organic and vegan doughnuts, has celebrated March 17 by using Matcha Green Tea as a natural coloring in its vanilla glaze, “creating a beautifully green-striped vanilla donut,” Twiggs says.

This year, she adds, “we're also releasing our seasonal Coffee Bomb doughnut early, as espresso pairs perfectly with dark beer flavors. We'll encourage our customers--21 and older, of course—to grab a Green Tea or Coffee Bomb donut to take while enjoying their favorite stout or porter.”

     RELATED: 3 Ways to Generate More Walk-in Traffic for Your Business

Naturally Green

Neither Matcha tea nor plain old green food coloring are called upon as Jon Houghton, owner and manager of Maplehurst Florist in Essex Junction, Vermont, and his staff prepare for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Anything green, mainly green carnations,” he says when asked to name Maplehurst Florist’s most popular products this time of year.

Novelty floral arrangements and flowers prepared in St. Paddy's Day-themed containers and beer mugs also attract attention, according to Houghton, who adds that “any celebratory occasion is a good occasion for flowers and St. Patrick's Day is definitely celebratory. Although it is not recognized as a major floral holiday, there is a modest increase in sales.”

Suggestions for Next St. Patrick's Day

If you’re ready to follow in the aforementioned business’ shamrock-filled footsteps next year, here are a few suggestions, supplied by Elizabeth Kraus, author of 365 Days of Marketing, the 2013 Small Business Marketing Calendar and the Small Business Marketing Ideas Blog. Try these ideas next St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Hold a limerick writing contest for your customers and invite them to submit limericks about your business, products, or services. Post entries on your social networks and reward one or more of the best with a gift card redeemable during a future visit to your business. 
  • Create your own leprechaun hunt for prospects and clients by leaving a trail of clues they can follow on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or even in a series of emails. Use engagement responses and posts as entries into a special drawing, or feature a grand prize for the first to complete your contest and prizes for any runners-up.

    RELATED: 3 Tips for Running a Successful Contest to Promote Your Business

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